The worst thing he could have said or done - Harry Dunn family slams Boris Johnson over Anne Sacoolas extradition 'gaffe'

Harry Dunn's family described Boris Johnson's pessimistic comments on the extradition of the woman accused of causing the Northamptonshire teen's death as 'the worst thing he could have said or done'.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 12:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 12:30 pm

The Prime Minister said the chances of Anne Sacoolas being sent back to the UK by the United States are 'very low' over the crash near Croughton in August.

Family spokesman Radd Seiger said they were devastated by the remarks, which came on Harry's mother's birthday, but they will not be weakened in their campaign for justice.

"It is a gaffe of gargantuan proportions which I hope will not be seen as an opportunity by the Trump administration to be taken advantage of," he said in a statement.

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Harry Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger (centre) with Harry's parents Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn. Photo: Getty Images

"In the context of conducting foreign policy, it is just about the worst thing he could have said or done at this delicate and critical time, the request only having been delivered a few days ago.

"Just as the parents were beginning to attempt to rebuild their shattered lives and turn to some positives like setting up the charitable foundation in Harry’s name, the comments have caused immense damage and hurt to Harry’s parents when they least needed it."

Harry, 19, died in hospital after the crash with a car while riding his motorcycle on the B4031 between RAF Croughton and the village in the evening of August 27.

Mrs Sacoolas, who has admitted to driving her car on the wrong side of the road and being involved in the fatal crash, initially co-operated with police but then flew to the US citing diplomatic immunity.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Getty Images

The United States is considering a request from the British government for Mrs Sacoolas to be extradited to face a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

The US State Department has criticised the request and repeatedly said she will not come back but Harry's family has seen their campaign for her to face justice make headlines around the world.

Mr Seiger said they are confident Mrs Sacoolas will return as the US has never refused a British extradition request before and Whitehall officials agreed not to comment on the application until it is resolved.

But talking to BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker yesterday (Tuesday, January 14), Mr Johnson said: "I think it's right we have made the appeal for extradition.

Harry Dunn

"I have to be absolutely clear with you Dan, the chances of America actually responding by sending Anne Sacoolas to this country are very low.

"That's just not what they do but we will continue to make every effort that we can."

Harry's family is yet to have a response from Mr Johnson about a potential meeting after repeated requests from them and South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom.

Mr Seiger likened the PM's comments to a general ordering their troops to fight while he believed there is no chance they can win and he could imagine the 'collective groan' from Whitehall officials.

"Rather than commenting on prospects, he should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the campaign and demanding Anne Sacoolas’ return publicly," the spokesman said.

"So that the nation can see that like them, he will never accept a position that Americans can come to the UK, kill British citizens and then flee no matter who they are.

"He appears to be laying the ground for moving the country on from this diplomatic standoff and to invite Harry’s parents to simply shrug their shoulders and move on as well.

"If that is the case, he has seriously misjudged the situation and the resolve of Harry’s family to see this through to the end."

After the extradition request was sent by the Home Office on Friday, a lawyer will decide whether it falls under the dual-criminality treaty, where the alleged offence is a crime in both countries and carries a prison sentence of at least a year.

The maximum punishment for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years in jail but a judge would take lots of different factors into account before deciding on the sentence, should a defendant be convicted.

The US has always argued that Mrs Sacoolas is entitled to diplomatic immunity - Northamptonshire Police has argued it no longer applies because she is not in the country anymore.

While Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said there is an 'anomaly' with how diplomatic immunity relates to spouses at RAF Croughton.